Into the Deep: Chaminade Families Embark on Lenten Journey at Faith and Family Event

By Sean Maleady ’17

During the 40-day Lenten Season, Catholics prepare for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Lent is a journey and a time to bear crosses and make sacrifices just as Jesus did about 2,000 years ago.  Chaminade families prepared for this journey by attending the Lenten Mission Faith Event.

In the evening on the festival of Mardi Gras, on Tuesday, February 9, Chaminade families met united in faith for a common goal: to prepare for the Liturgical Season of Lent.  Over 85 families attended the Faith and Family Lenten Mission, which was filled with inspirational faith talks and Eucharistic Adoration.  The evening featured speeches given by Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98, Mr. Daniel Petruccio, and Brother Stephen Balletta S.M. ’74.

“It’s was nice to see the families of Chaminade students come together in faith to share in a Lenten Mission,” said Gonzalo Vazquez ’18.  “The exhilarating speeches by Mr. Chicavich, Mr. Petruccio, and Bro. Stephen prepared me and my family for our journey through Lent.”

Mr. Matthew Chicavich ‘98 describes his experiences surfing and his Faith.
Mr. Matthew Chicavich ‘98 describes his experiences surfing and his Faith.

After being introduced by Mr. Michael Foley ’99, Mr. Chicavich took the Hearst Auditorium Stage to remind those in attendance that Lent is a season that leaves blemishes in the past and focuses on the future.  Mr. Chicavich told a story about an experience he had that reminded him of the words we hear on Ash Wednesday, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” 

From the powerful serenity of the ocean to the beauty of the shining sand and blue sky, surfing is a hobby that excites Mr. Chicavich.  The ocean, like God, is very powerful.  Even Mr. Chicavich, a dedicated surfer, has a hard time hanging ten from time to time.  Like surfing, Lent both can be challenging, but achieving the end results in gratification and personal advancement. 

While surfing one time, Mr. Chicavich was knocked down and struggled to swim; however, a bystander helped him to save him from his dilemma.  Mr. Chicavich noted that we all need help because we frequently lose our sense of direction.  

Next, Mr. Petruccio spoke about the Year of Mercy.  Pope Francis declared 2016 a Year of Mercy, but Mr. Petruccio, the former 12-year Mayor of New Hyde Park, did not agree with his holiness’s choice at first glance.  As a former politician, he sought a Year of Justice but later realized that mercy and justice intertwine tightly.

Bro. Stephen rounded out the speeches after Mr. Petruccio.  He entered the stage carrying a rather large bag which housed his prop off which he would base his speech.  Shocking the audience and leaving them with questions, he pulled a beautiful red dress out of the bag.  Bro. Stephen then started to explain his message to the stunned crowd.  

Recently, Bro. Stephen read a book by Father Gregory “G” Boyle called Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.  In the book, Fr. Gregory details his experience working with his organization in Los Angeles, California called Homeboy Industries.  The group, founded in 1992, assists high-risk youth, former gang members and the recently incarcerated with a variety of free programs, such as mental health counseling, legal services, tattoo removal, and education classes.  He highlighted a few feature stories from this book, such as when Fr. Greg, or “G” as they refer to him at Homeboy Industries, met a teenage girl named Teresa.  

Brother Stephen Balletta S.M. ’74 holds up a red dress and explains the story of Teresa from Homeboy Industries.
Brother Stephen Balletta S.M. ’74 holds up a red dress and explains the story of Teresa from Homeboy Industries.

Teresa wore a beautiful red dress, so Fr. Greg gentlemanly complimented her.  She responded by saying, “Bury me in this dress,” startling Fr. Greg.  She noted that because most young people in that area of Los Angeles involve themselves gang activities and do not expect to live past the age of 25.  

Homeboy Industries sought to help Teresa and welcomed her to start working in the Homeboy Bakery.  They gave her an opportunity for employment in a transitional job in a safe, supportive environment where she could learn.  

Bro. Steve also told the stories of a few other people including Fabian, who, along with his siblings, was abused by his mother.  Enduring a rough young life, Fabian turned to Homeboy Industries and thrived, becoming a part of Homeboy Industries corporate team.

Bro. Steve also linked the red dress to the movie, As Good as It Gets.  The 1997 film features Academy Award Winning actors Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.  Helen Hunt plays the role of Carol Conolly, who wears a red dress on a date.  Nicholson’s character, Melvin Udall, known for being a bitter person, had upset Helen but told her that, “You make me want to be a better man.”  

Bro. Steve noted that we could say the same phrase to Jesus, the only Son of God who  died for us to save us from sin and death so that we might have eternal life.

“The speakers did a fantastic job of getting us ready for the season of Lent,” said Christian Cassar ’17.  

After Bro. Stephen’s talk ended, Eucharistic Adoration started, and musician Anthony Muse provided music to accompany the solemn vigil in Christ’s presence.  Following Eucharistic Adoration, the evening ended and families exited and took fresh baked cookies for the trip home.

As the families exited Hearst Auditorium, they entered Lent prepared for the challenges and delights of the season that lay ahead.